So you’ve designed a pretty good logo for your real estate business and you are ready to use it to represent your business. But before you upload that logo, or send it to a branding agency, you should think about protecting the design and the business idea behind it through proper trademark law.
Did you know that your logo and entire branding efforts can be copied by your competition if they’re not trademarked? Once someone copies your design, your unique branding can be used by several businesses, making your efforts go wasted.
We know the transition from the concept of a logo and brand from operation to design is not as simple as it sounds. This is why we have created this guide to help you trademark your real estate brand logo.
What Exactly Is a Trademark?
What is a trademark anyway? Why is it so important? Trademark is basically the mark of trade for your business. In simpler terms, it’s a slogan, logo, image, word, or a combination of these that represent your business with your services and mission statement. Sometimes this trademark also speaks about your personality and uniqueness.
Just try reading some LegalZoom trademark reviews and you’ll understand why a trademark is so important. A trademark can basically take any shape as long as it is distinctive. The customer should be able to recognize a trademark immediately and relate it back to your business. A classic example of this is a can of Coca Cola which is trademarked with the logo and color. You can immediately tell the can belongs to the Coca Cola company by just looking at it. This is the power of a trademark.
How to Apply for a Trademark in the U.S
Before you think about trademarking your logo and brand, you have to make sure that no one else is already using the logo, branding, colors, slogan and anything else that represents a brand. You can conduct a search using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) on the internet. This tool can be found on the official website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
This is a very crucial step because it will help identify if there are any conflicts with an existing trademark of another business or a trademark that is waiting for approval. If you do not search for conflicts, your application could get rejected immediately because of your logo’s similarities with another company’s logo.
Once you have confirmed that your brand logo is unique, you must file a trademark application using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). You will be given a form to fill. There are three different types of application forms, these include TEAS Plus, TEAS Reduced, and TEAS Regular.
If you decide to go with an ‘intent-to-use basis’ (ITU) in the application, you will have to pay an extra filing fee of $50 for at least one service or product. After you have submitted your registration, you will immediately get an email confirmation from the organization. All you have to do is now waiting for approval.
The time it takes to approve depends on how many trademark applications are currently being looked for. An attorney will go through your application to determine whether it meets all the legal requirements required for trademark approval. The process can take up to three months.
You can keep checking your application progress once in a while. We recommend looking at the progress every third or fourth month. The status of your application can easily be checked online through the Trademark Status & Document Retrieval (TSDR).
How Does the Approval Process Work?
The approval process for a trademark is actually more complicated than many people think. When you first submit your application, it will be looked by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They will search for the availability of your mark and will inform you of the results in due time. If during their search they find a mark that is similar to yours, the application will be rejected.
Once this is done, an attorney will review your application and will check if it meets all the legal requirements. Your logo will be published in the Official Gazette where others can look at it. If at this time someone feels they are being damaged with your mark, they can file an opposition.
If this happens, a tribunal will take place and if the opposite party fails, your registration will be approved.